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UltraViolet making progress, but challenges remain, says DECE

Yves Caillaud

Yves Caillaud

The UltraViolet digital locker system for electronic sell-through is making strong progress, but serious issues remain about usability and European markets, including the UK, still lag behind the US in terms of take up, attendees at the PEVE Entertainment Business Futures 2014 conference heard this morning.

Speaking on the opening panel session at the event, Yves Caillaud, Europe region managing director at the Digital Entertainment Content Ecosystem (DECE) consortium that supports the standard, said that over 96 million rights had now been placed in consumers’ UltraViolet libraries, double that of last year.

According research by NPD Group, 89% of users are satisfied with the system, he said.

Caillaud said there are 1.5 million UK active UltraViolet accounts. The numbers are encouraging given there is little access to TV applications via UV, with the exception of the Flixter service.

In terms of usage, Caillaud said that UltraViolet assets were being viewed an average of 1.5 to two times per year.

Caillaud said UV is complex in a set top box environment. “The next stage is getting on board pay TV operators and set top providers,” he said.

He said DECE has initiated a process of delivering a simplified implementation for these devices, based on its common file format and the dropping of a number elements take the cost of implementation down. “The guys that parked UltraViolet for some time because of [its complexity] may change their minds because of this,” he said.

Also speaking on the panel, Robert Price, UK managing director, 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment, said that studios saw the value of UltraViolet. However, making sure consumers know that digital content is available early with a clear proposition is going to be key, he said. Price said that it is clear that the desire for content is there, as is the desire for ownership of that content, particularly in the UK.

Ian Moss, general manager, content acquisition, BT TV, however, said that UltraViolet’s complexity is still a huge challenge. Therefore, BT has focused on delivering its own good electronic sell-through service to the TV, initially with support from two studios. He said that EST conversion rates had been good.

Speakers at the PEVE event agreed that the ability to convert existing purchased physical media to digital copies would drive take-up, but existing attempts to do this – for example by offering to convert DVDs to digital copies in stores – were cumbersome.

Caillaud said that the best way to enable conversion is for retailers to look at purchase records and offer conversion of these products to digital, he said. However, relatively few retailers had this purchase record to hand to date.